Monday, June 2, 2008

We need a REAL Food Critic in our Paper

I've been suggesting (complaining?) for quite some time about the dearth of true restaurant reviews in our town. Frederick News Post, Frederick Magazine - each of them seems petrified of the possibility of a non-glowing review impacting their bottom line.

Balderdash. I get the importance of watching the P&L statements - but they also have certain responsiblities to give their readers credible information.

In that light, here's a letter I sent to the newspaper a while back illuminating my opinion on this topic:

To the Editors:

Now that Frederick has become a more cosmopolitan city, I think that the moment has arrived for the Frederick News Post and Frederick Magazine to initiate a true Dining Review.

The time has passed when commentary on tablecloth colors and wall pictures are enough to enlighten your readers. It's really not important whether "Mary" came right over and handed us a menu. Or if her uniform was blue or red. We want to know more! We deserve to know more!


Here are just a few things we would like to know:


Are the offerings processed or fresh? Are they buying food at Costco and reheating? Is the fish fresh or frozen? Are the salad dressings bottled or home-made? Do they use canned or fresh mushrooms on the pizza? Is it really goat cheese or are they cutting it with cream cheese? Is the wait staff knowledgeable? Is service speedy or slow? Is the food any good?

With this information, we can make an informed choice on whether to spend our money at a particular restaurant.

Here are a few things we do NOT need to know - they add virtually nothing to our knowledge base: Who the reviewer ate with. How full they were before they started eating. How full they were when they finished. How many pages are in the menu. We don't need a review of Pizza Hut. We need to know whether we should spend our money at the new joint in town.

Please consider hiring a real foodie to give us the scoop on restaurants.

And, really - if someone is going to review an ethnic restaurant - make sure they know how the food SHOULD taste! Someone who isn't well versed in , say, Indian food, shouldn't be reviewing a new Indian establishment!

Find someone knowledgeable - and let them share the information with us!

Now… All together, Joan Rivers 3 favorite little words: Let’s Eat Out!

22 comments:

Laura said...

I consider myself a fellow foodie and could not agree MORE. Those reviews are ridiculous. Pretty much ALL mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, chicken fingers and anything else coming out of the fryer is going to taste the same.

Let's shake it up!! And - god forbid - how about a review of a wine list now and then?!!

Dining Diva said...

Don't you think it would be interesting to have a regular foodies-night-out dinner? I can only order so many entrees at a time...

Rochelle said...

You know I agree with you. Change comes slowly, alas.

Side note to Laura: the FNP does not cover alcohol for diners, which is probably partly why there is little mention of wine lists in FNP 72 Hours reviews.

Liz said...

Also, as soon as I see a review of a restaurant I never heard of, only to discover that it is in Rockville (?), I click my "go back" button!

I'm up for a foodie dinner. Let's shake things up Janis!

Dining Diva said...

Liz - Yes! Let's get a foodie-night-out thing going. Do you think a post on FNO blog would generate some interest by other food-centric folks?

And, Laura - want to join us?

Laura said...

Absolutely, I'm in (and my husband too, if possible - he's a former exec chef and now that he's out of the business he can actually enjoy food - not to mention cook more for us!). Rochelle - thanks for the info - that explains that one!
Laura

Dining Diva said...

Laura-

Of course! The more palates the better!

I think 6-8 people per outing would be a good cross-section of tastes to work with.

Let's see who Liz comes up with on FMO and work toward making this a reality...

Laura said...

OK - just let me know when and where!

Anonymous said...

Foodie is a stupid word. As is veggie.

Dining Diva said...

Sorry you don't like the words - but they have definitely entered our vernacular.

I find incorrect grammar usage much more offensive than utilizing words that are part of the food-world's lexicon.

HowChow said...

I love the blog. I'm amused to find it because I got frustrated just like you and started blogging about Howard County food. (I also appear to have used the same Blogger template.) You are fighting the good fight.

www.howchow.blogspot.com

Dining Diva said...

HowChow - you'll have to come out with us when we meet to sample a restaurant...How far are you from Frederick?

FredRocks.net Darren said...

I mentioned this on Frederick Maryland Online to, but the used to be The Frederick Dining Out Meetup Group at http://diningout.meetup.com/235/ which seems to have become inactive, but there are still 80 registered members, so you may want to start something up with them. Also, FNP has a link for those who would like to blog for them, so perhaps you could offer your talents up for the cause.

Dining Diva said...

Good idea, Darren. Thanks for the tip!

Fred Foodie said...

Excellent post Diva. I agree 100% The FNP's lame "reviews" were one of the main reasons I started blogging. And as Laura said god forbid they mention the wine!

Fred Foodie said...

PS. I have written two letters to the FNP about this. Never any response.

Kelly said...

Hey, I would be interested...

Monica Pileggi said...

Hi Dining Diva,

I know what you men about the poor quality of restaurant reviews. I remember from years ago one on the Brown Pelican (used to be my favorite place before it closed down) and all I remember in the article were comments about the brick walls! Crazy!

I have lived in Frederick for quite some time now and have seen this area grow. I love GOOD food and will try pretty much everything. I would be interested in a foodies night out and I'm sure my husband would be too. We belong to a rotation dinner group, about 20 people, and we take turns hostin at our homes. Most dinners (everyone brings something) are ethnic themes: Italian, Indian, Asian, Cuban, German, etc., plus we've done themes such as "Anything Garlic", "Food and drink parings" (we all got pretty ripped that night!), "foods that warm the heart", "Jamaican Me Crazy!" etc. If you got a lof of responses a rotation group like the one I belong to might be a good option, especially if people love to cook.

My husband and I attended a few of the dining out dinners a couple of years ago but backed out. They were in their early 20s and seemed to be looking for dates more so than the dining experience.

Monica

Dining Diva said...

Sounds like we have quite a few people that would like to get this night-out thing going.

I will post here and on Frederick Maryland Online to get an idea of how many will be able to attend.

Perhaps, the first time, I will pick the date and time. From then on - we can rotate so that we get a more varied selection of locales and times.

Glad to hear that others are interested!

pabiker said...

I'll second your motion for a real food critic in Frederick. The current offerings are primarily comprised of innane ramblings that are barely descriptive, rarely objective, and seldom insightful.

So many great places to eat and as a newer downtown resident, a little guidance would have been nice.

I hate driving to DC for Thai food.

David said...

When I moved in with my girlfriend 3 years ago, Outback was considered the best steak in Frederick. I think up until recently it still had that claim from the Best Of...

Sad

Linda said...

Well finally. I was saying this back in 2000, at least about the newspaper's then-restaurant reviewer. I would tell all of my coworkers "I can't stand it. The reviewer has apparently never found a restaurant they haven't absolutely loved! They're not ALL that good!" We had lived in 10 other states and 2 other countries. We lived in or near cities many cities (San Francisco,Montreal, Berlin Germany,) and traveled in many more throughout Europe and South America. We know what a "good" restaurant is and precious few of the ones that particular reviewer raved about fit the description - ever. Frederick County does have several excellent restaurants - and many bad ones. The bad ones will never improve if someone does not point out, in print where everyone can see it, exactly what their flaws are and what they can do to improve!